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How to Do a Basic Calisthenic Training Routine

author image Kelly N. Vance
Kelly N. Vance is an ACE-certified personal trainer and accomplished fitness and nutrition writer who has worked in and written about the fitness industry for 10 years. Her additional qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, a minor in English and multiple fitness certifications.
How to Do a Basic Calisthenic Training Routine
Group fitness class outdoors. Photo Credit Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Getty Images

While the word “calisthenics” may conjure up visions of 80’s era exercise videos, the concept is still going strong. Calisthenics are essentially body weight exercises. These exercises are easy to do at home and extremely efficient in building both functional and cardiovascular strength. Gym memberships can provide a wide variety of workouts, but having a calisthenics routine in your fitness arsenal makes it possible to workout on those days you cannot get to the gym.

Basic Body Weight

Start with a five-minute march to warm up. Begin with squats and do as many as you can in one minute. Follow the same format with pushups. Train your core with Plank position, supporting yourself on your forearms, and hold the position as long as you can. Do one minute of jumping jacks followed by 30 seconds of mountain climbers. Rest for five minutes and repeat this circuit. If you are already in good shape, cut your rest to three minutes.

Plyo Perfection

Boost the intensity of calisthenics by adding plyometrics. The concept behind plyometrics is exerting as much force as possible in the shortest period of time. This small inclusion amps up your heart rate. Including a jump is the easiest way to work them into exercise programs. Add a hop at the end of each lunge. Do small jumps after plié squats. Use explosive force during pushups to lift your hands briefly off the ground.

Get Creative

Once you get past the basic calisthenic exercises, you may think you're running out of things to do. The key is to be creative and use what you have in your environment. Use a step to add an incline or decline to your pushups. Perform squats on one leg or stand on a folded towel for an extra core challenge. Add a pushup to your squat thrust. String several exercises together for an added cardio boost. Change your hand position in your pushups to work different angles of your chest and shoulder muscles.

Avoiding Injury

During your workout, check your form to be sure you are doing the exercise properly and getting a complete range of movement. Because calisthenics are tough and use nearly every muscle in the body, factor in time for a cool-down period. Monitor your heart rate and do not stretch until your pulse has decreased to just above resting. End your workout with a hamstring stretch, chest stretch and back stretch. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and remember to breathe.

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